AZM vs. Hina vs. Lady C - 6/10
This was a bit all over the place, some parts looked really good, but some parts looked sloppy. Both C and Hina are still quite green, so not even AZM could save them at spots. Hina pinned Lady C.
Momo Watanabe vs. Mina Shirakawa - 7/10
Momo was vicious in this match, she stared with a couple of drop kicks that looked super stiff, especially the hesitation kick to the corner. Momo worked the upper body, while Mina started trying for the leg, but as she realized that she wasn't doing a lot of damage, she instead turned her focus to Momo's head and came closer to finishing her.
The match was back and forward, and one of the better Mina matches I've seen as of late, she didn't allow Momo to outshine her and kept up with her. Mina had a couple of strong spots where she brought down Momo, mostly striking spots. Momo won with an overkill combo of the B-Driver and the Tequila Sunrise.
Unagi Sayaka vs. Saya Kamitani - 7/10
Good stuff, these matches still feel like Sayaka is in her trial, she's just too much of an underdog, but realistically, just because your trial is over, it doesn't mean you should suddenly start winning matches left and right. Because of that, this also felt like a Kamitani showcase, she had a chance to get a lot of offense in, some of her high flying stuff, and all.
Match saw Kamitani dominate for about half of the match, but Sayaka kept trying. As they went on, Kamitani pushed Sayaka to fire up and have a decent comeback, not really coming close to winning, but she had some good offense. Kamitani regained control, hit the Star Breaker, and got the win.
Elimination Match, Loser must join the opponent's group
Oedo Tai (Konami, Natsuko Tora, Rina, Ruaka & Saki Kashima) vs. STARS (Gokigen Death, Hanan, Mayu Iwatani, Saya Iida & Starlight Kid) - 8.5/10
This is an interesting stipulation. I tend to dislike these stipulations when it comes to Lucha Libre, mostly because it's done with cages and that doesn't make much sense to me, but here, I really liked how it played out for most of the eliminations, especially considering who took the final elimination at the end.
With a match like this, you want to pace out your eliminations smartly. You have to start with the names that wouldn't create buzz, or that fans wouldn't care for, or that straight up wouldn't make sense for the overall story. So in this case, the first to go were Iida, Hanan, Ruaka, and Rina.
Each team's third elimination doesn't really matter, but I did love that it came down to a double elimination with Kid and Tora. I originally thought that Kid was a big contender to lose the match, since she being forced into a heel faction would be a strong development for her, whether she went Starlight Kid DARK, or she fought the system. She being eliminated here didn't bother me though, but it did kinda feel like it would be coming down to Mayu or Kashima, for the super awkward month to follow. Either way, you want your final two to be a credible loser, and someone that would be really big, so a big tease. Both teams did that, Iwatani and Death vs Konami and Kashima.
What Stardom did was get rid of the two 'teases' and leave the two credible losers at the end, and after a couple of near falls, Kashima pinned Death for the win. Death must now join Oedo Tai. This may seem completely underwhelming, but when you see the overall arch, she is a means to an end, the story is not Death's story, it's the story of how STARS and Iwatani keeps losing team members, for many different reasons, whether they want to start their own thing like Nakano, whether they turn on Iwatani like Ruaka, or because Iwatani wasn't able to protect them and she lost them to the heel team. This is a big point for STARS and Iwatani to motivate themselves on saving Death from Oedo Tai.
As for the match, it was nicely laid out. It was a constant repetition of any tag match finishing sequence, with two wrestlers going at it, a quick double/triple team spot, near falls, and then the elimination, and then change the wrestlers and wash, rinse, repeat. As for quick notes, I really really enjoyed Hanan and Rina, they both looked so much better than I remember them, especially Rina who is just coming back. Hanan has really developed as a technical wrestler. Ruaka also pinned Iida, so I can see that being a title rematch soon.
Finally, this match had one of the best 'pull the referee during the pin' spots that I've seen, they tend to be overused for the sake of drama, but this one made perfect sense. As Iwatani had Kahima beaten, a desperate Tora pulled the referee because she couldn't fathom losing, who I think is her favorite partner in Oedo Tai. It wasn't just them, seeing STARS and Oedo Tai react outside the ring to every elimination was great, Starlight Kid flipping out at the final pin was beautiful. Real frustration shown by Kid, Death, and Iwatani at the end.
Post-match - Tora dragged Death to her corner and renamed her Fukigen Death, meaning like Bad Mood/Pout Death. Tora and Iwatani cut promos, Iwatani pretty much apologized to Death and told her she hopes to be together again.
The execution of this whole match and post-match was fantastic.
Wonder Of Stardom Title Match
Tam Nakano (c) vs. Natsupoi - 9/10
Really good match, easily the match of the night for me, and I do realize that I'm starting to sound like a broke record with Natsupoi matches. From what I took, the story coming in was that Natsupoi and Nakano had a real life friendship, that Natsu was breaking up because the title was more important to her, and so she would hurt and humiliate Nakano if necessary.
The match was pretty much paced as a Natsupoi match, fast and actioned packed, at least it was until they started doing some spots on the apron and Natsupoi had Nakano down for the heat. They both poured water on each other's heads as a means to humiliate each other, and when Natsupoi did it on Nakano, that was the big mistake that woke up Nakano's rage and resulted in a comeback, that with time, would eventually be her win. Nakano was portrayed as a strong champion, with a lot of heart, that while she can't just go and overpower everyone, even someone like Poi, she took on all the offense and still held strong and at the end, it was Poi that couldn't keep up with Tam.
World Of Stardom Title Match
Utami Hayashishita (c) vs. Bea Priestley - 8/10
Good match, I'd say it was Bea's best, but it also kinda felt like a bunch of spots, a lot of them in the apron. This, more than some other matches, felt like a sprint and a brawl just by how quickly they would go from spot to spot. It was nice that there were no shenanigans or outside interference, just the two of them going at it, hitting slams on the apron.
The match did reach a point where it felt like a big deal, Bea started going for Kamigoyes and jumping knees, she started chasing the Queen's Landing, but she couldn't keep Hayashishita down. Hayashishita would recover, take down Bea with a lariat, a German, and the BT Driver for the win.
It's crazy how Hayashishita has gone from being this great technical wrestler, a slow paced storyteller, into a big spot spammer with all the pageantry.
Post-match - Bea Priestley brought in Momo and told her and Utami that she was leaving Japan and that this was her last match. They all cried together. I don't know what her plans are, but wherever she's going, she's jumping from being a 'good' wrestler in the promotion, to being a top one. Easy way out is attractive.
Goddesses Of Stardom Title Match
Donna del Mondo (Himeka & Maika) (c) vs. Donna del Mondo (Giulia & Syuri) - 8.5/10
If anyone was wondering what STARDOM sees in Giulia, just consider that her tag title match main evented Yokohama Budokan, over the other two title matches, and a big stakes 5-on-5, AND she won a new title in her first big match after losing the Red title. She's money.
Coming in to the match, this already had an interesting mix, because even as champions, Himeka and Maika are the underdogs to their seniors Giulia and Syuri. Himeka and Maika were better than Bea and Konami, but that was because Giulia and Syuri were focused on their singles championships at the time. They even had better team chemistry, since Giulia and Syuri have had more team matches than Maika and Himeka, who usually teams with Natsupoi.
Because of all that, Giulia and Syuri actually got A LOT of offense, like A LOT. Himeka being bigger and Maika having the technical proficiency in the stable, allowed them to have some strong comebacks and hope spots here and there, but the dominance was there.
Match itself saw Giulia and Syuri dominate early on, they even brawled a bit outside the ring. Back inside the ring, they worked over Himeka for a while until Maika came in and paired up with Giulia for a decent exchange between the two, this is when the team of Maika and Himeka had the most offense and chance at retaining the titles. Maika would go and have a second long run against Syuri, which led to the finish after some double team moves and kicks from Syuri. Between Giulia and Syuri, Maika took a hell of a beating tonight.
Post-match - Syuri and Giulia cut promos about wining the titles and about Donna del Mondo's dominance. Syuri was somewhat passive aggressive, while Giulia seemed more heartfelt.
Syuri called out Hayashishita and made some challenges. I am convinced that no one can talk like Syuri does in this promotion.
And yet another great show from STARDOM, they're just hitting it out of the park from all sides, be it small show or a big Budokan show, they have top level wrestling, interesting wrestlers, good stories, and a great looking product. This show went by fast, and even after having watched a NJPW show prior, I never get the "should watch something after NJPW" issue with most other promotions